BEHIND THE CURTAINS
(Continuation of THE PERPETUAL GIFT Semanawak Part Four)
By Natalia Lucia Aguilar Gaona
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
loving someone deeply gives you courage.
The expression on my mother’s face when her cousins asked her; why did Lucia end up living with her father? She put on the face of an actress, a child pretending to be innocent and clueless. I gave her the opportunity to say the truth, but she knew deep down inside that she would have to admit her plan of erasing my sister's careless overdose had backed fired. Hiding the truth never works, especially from yourself.
What really happened?
By explaining the egregious dilemma to my uncles, a profusion of details opened up multiple devastating avenues that nearly escaped from my memory. As I recall we were not alone, there were perverted forces lurking constantly in the background. I know now that experiments of extermination grew all around us, while some positive thinkers love to label people with paranoid or schizophrenic personalities, the evidence has finally surfaced for all who remember unusual activity in their suburb in the early 70’s. Not only that the amount of companies and factories of weapons of mass destruction were situated right there around the corner from our home, not to mention the endless drilling for oil on every mile across southern California. The daily dose of toxic fumes from millions of cars laid a thick blanket of poison.
Also it was no secret the numbing effect of affluence, that came with the artificial TV culture pumped into our homes and displayed in fancy Malls all over the world. This was a period in time when our family basked in light of economic success: we lived in a beautiful house in the upper middle class, two working adults, my father was well educated, he drove a Volvo sport car and Caroline stopped sewing our cloths, she found a job at huge distribution company, delighted to buy nice stuff for herself and us.
While revisiting the past, I could perceive how each decision was taken; starting by Victoria’s overpowering need to emulate her favorite rock stars, people all over the world were growing stupidly self-indulged and delusional. Till this day sociologist work overtime to downplay the financial entities funding money to produce TV content, movies, and the development of a fictitious “Counter Culture”. Thus we were indoctrinated fans swimming in an ocean of wannabees “Rock’n roll stars”. Infested communities of well to do families were unaware of the accumulated consequences; grownups ran faster to pay their credit cards, while quietly drowning in loneliness.
Shall we explore the not so obvious actors behind the scenes:
Why were our parents so disengaged?
How did the pressure to succeed at all cost enter into our schools?
Parents simply took on very little responsibility, get money pay bills was all they needed. They were convinced they had no other (moral) obligation of any kind, their religion was “Cash equals wealth”. Immoral means of subsistence became justified, crude harassment, wars and indentured slavery. Most people following the soap operas also nagged at their kids to make a career by clawing up the latter of an elusive success, that brought a landslide of psychological demands for the next generation. Be independent so you can party, party and party some more.
The middle class gets to buy a car and insurance, drive to that job they hate, so someday they can fly to another county and find a mate. But, they tend to stay single and be on the lookout for a better mate. Another demand for the over forty crowd: travel two or three times a year, they never sleep, because they might miss a party… by then the only party invitation they might get invited to is from another toddler’s parent or their own family member, which at first might seem like a really good way to get a free meal and to escape from the routine of mowing the lawn or doing laundry.
Were we governed by emotionally impaired bureaucrats?
Perhaps all those demands were carefully crafted “lures” to spend all our hard earned cash on cheap thrills, part of an insidious tax revenue excuse, dressed as “prosperity”. Our collective wiliness to deny the atrocious side effects and the collateral damage to our planet was concealed; that of self-induced paralysis was nothing more than the gigantic suction cups of cancerous venom from an invisible multi-tentacle parasite that actually enjoyed rendering us into helpless corpses.
I still believe that some kind of miracle occurred; because we barely survived both Caroline’s shameless quest for money and our father’s personal mania for knowledge and power? They both achieved their goals, at the expense of others and lived permanently dissatisfied. Caroline well into her eighties became so stingy, she hated spending any of her money, her distrust and obsession has left her with no real friends, just acquaintances who she calls to fill their ears with the best years of her life, her childhood stories. My father took on a third wife thirty-five years younger than him, again a symbol of his never ending virtue calling. Men confuse influence with power, he needed other men to feel envious; show the world that a young gal was attracted to him, and somehow that made him an outstanding person or instinctive preservation? Primitive and ridiculous, yet men amass power to control their destiny.
So why destroy others in a senseless war against life itself?
Whether we try to make sense or not, the facts point to several aspects of poor judgment, devastating habitats everywhere you can find people too busy to “be available or responsible” they are lost in preconceived dreams of happiness or affection bottled easy to use and totally justified commercial endeavors. My parents were obviously running away from interacting with their offspring, constructing a fictional family neatly abdicating their parental responsibility onto an imaginary system; the promise of higher standards of the luxurious suburban lifestyle, the self-regulating dreamland of appearances.
Recalling those memories let my uncles understand that things weren’t going well in my parents’ marriage, and that their apparent success was based on hiding from each other. My sister Victoria took things a step further, just to add flavor to our monotonous existence, her intoxication triggered a series of consequences that tore the family apart. Unknown to us there were secret agents peddling drugs to unsuspecting kids. These malignant entrepreneurs were financed to derail aspiring teenagers and their emergent families. What really took place in the 1970’s, was an undeniable flushing of the lovely American dream into cesspool of abysmal proportions. The second thing that stood out to me was the absence of gifted people in our lives; eager to expose and put a stop to the villains and their irresponsibility.
After the divorce, it never occurred to think about my sister addiction, or about my mother’s missing money, I was just a ghost following orders to keep the peace when in their presence. Sharing the bedroom with Victoria stretched back to when we were toddlers, the time she burned my first doll’s hair, laughed and enjoyed harassing me with her story; that I wasn’t family, that I was adopted. Now that I ponder about our toxic environment: I remember the thick layer of smog from the lead in gasoline.
Why the hate? Didn’t she have a heart? Of course after years of trying to understand why nothing I did or said was never taken serious, if I complained to Caroline about Victoria she’d say; “Stop being so dramatic, Victoria is just jealous of you”. How could Caroline say that to me? Why should Victoria be jealous of me in the first place? Why did she believe that? Perhaps we were all physically damaged unable to make sense.
In perspective after carefully analyzing things; Caroline was secretly “jealous” of both her daughters, she wished she was our age, in our shoes standing at the threshold of some imaginary promise land. Caroline was not prepared to become older or stay married to an intellectual hermit, so she sabotaged the marriage. That in fact Victoria was a gorgeous well developed fourteen-year-old coming of age, and her daily presence added put a big obstacle in her path to success. Our puberty was totally ignored, we received no advice on how to conduct ourselves in social gatherings. We had no idea which was the proper attitude around young men, we were feral and innocent teenagers, most of the time a pair of giggling idiots, not allowed to express any opinions let alone the truth of what we witnessed, restrained from mingling with others in the hallways or classroom, we had no social interaction.
Caroline wanted to be a permanent child, she refused to take responsibility perhaps, most of her life we had been rivals all along... I realize that the reason she has no friends is because all women are her rivals. Once we were invited to a wedding in Mexico City, I was helping my grandmother to get dressed, I must have been nine or ten, Caroline stormed into the room to scold us because I was taking too long to hook up her full-length bra, my granny had big breasts and wanted her gown to look nice but, Caroline lashed out at her saying; “Really mom at you age, no one cares how you look!” She was fifty-five not at all, old or decrepit. I felt my heart sink, embarrassed by Caroline’s ugly behavior, my granny aged dramatically thereafter. It wasn’t obvious to me back then, just how toxic her presence was, nor, that "faking" was her narcissistic character, in front of strangers she’d typically act the role of perfect mother, she state loudly; how we were her precious daughters, but behind closed doors we were detested and constantly ignored, Caroline won in an imaginary competition.
Those years living with a not so happy Victoria, who kept hogging the record player with her loud English rock bands; songs dispersing incoherent anger, contorted and frantic idleness, along with all the other wannabe superstars, her ambition; "Be famous", a relationship with world of celebrities, the reason why karaoke bars and restaurants have become successful partying places all over the world, part of a pathology to be eternally adored.
The artificial construct of pop music stole from slaves their soul, unequivocal disrespect towards Africans and their ancient culture. Predatory recording companies exploited black musicians, Anglo-Saxons usurped the rhythms; denied the dignification of jazz, blues or even hip hop that grew from the hearts of black composers and singers. We grew up in a time when young people oppose segregation, the war in Vietnam, my generation was aware of the injustice, the hypocrisy, the window dressing; the poisoning of our schools.
People were bought off or eliminated, the post hippie movement pretended to be in opposition to what? Nothing, the era of nothingness was ushered in; dress to shock, degrade and obliterate yet another generation of well-fed middle class citizens. While a group business men took to promoting rhythm and blues with sentimental songs building the sounds of Motown starlets, I waited patiently for Victoria to leave room so I could to play my Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross singles…
BEHIND OUR BACKS
My parents like thousands other young families of the 70’s, were not aware of the army of drug peddlers moving all over the un-united states hiding in the suburbs, nor did we have any kind of relationship with our neighbors, because our early education warned us to be distrustful and to treat people as relentless competition. Every State started funding prisons because crimes kept rising. In 1977, I worked at the Los Angeles probation office and discovered that we had the highest crime rate in the world, everything was being criminalized. Why? The answer is always money, not for you or me, its to feed the starving zombies... And for those in gig economy we get new shitty jobs!
Everyone drove around in their little bubble, listening to the radio oblivious to the grief of parents losing their youngsters from overdosing, week after week; thousands quietly disappeared from the classroom. Cults started appearing, we were all vulnerable. My father was hooked on Valium for as long as I can remember, while he never spoke his about anxiety, we all shared his constant state of fear and emotional instability. It’s no wonder why Victoria never regarded her own addictions as problematic. The presence of those drug pushers was deliberately hidden, yet the tension was in the air; danger was real, until Victoria was taken to the hospital and I knew she was not alone, yet we had learned to ignored each other, to compete with unacquainted students, to pretend to be successful, to be ridiculous, to show off our newly acquired status to our neighbors and relatives.
The gift was gone or suppressed, art was for laundering money and bragging about it. Food was cheap, everything had to be about making a profit, no one dared to value principals. In its place a tons of fakery were portrayed in magazines, billboards, ugly advertising smothered people everywhere, the TV era of sitcoms bombarded families as people turned away from socializing to a leap into the indulgences, “fixing ourselves” with surgeries and artifacts to emulate the idealized aspirations projected on the big and small screens, "soap operas" sponsored by Procter and Gamble telling us how wonderful it is NOT to wash you own diapers, pay for hygiene products, casting away all the plastic bottles and wrappings, hardworking people trapped in the hoax. Competition and constant comparison was meant to destroy family ties, and it did. The people running the drug pushers must have been at least forty or fifty but they acted as four-year-olds; why did they need to destroy families? The suburbs were flooded with drugs and marijuana, why speak up, to who? Police had a quota to fill; traffic tickets to issue and to arrest as many Latino or black men they could find, prison labor was legal; in a land of the wicked, no one is ruler for long.
The giant corporations were casting lunacy in all directions; as the state of collective excitement was to be perpetrated at all cost. The political clansmen became the leaders of idiocy, one continual breast beating contest. California elected governor Ronald Reagan, this was no accident he was a mediocre actor. Since then most people holding office are script readers. All the roads, airways and marine ports, countries near and far where under control for profit only.
Movie equipment and production was very expensive yet hundreds of films, TV programs, comedy garbage filled the vacant minds of innocent immigrants, still unable to make sense of this consumerism hell. While I was only sixteen, I noticed how out of nowhere people were required to print and copy everything, what a waste of paper. The logging industry with the help IBM and Xerox copiers, these machines where in every government office, schools and universities, again for even bigger profits. The notion of a disposable nation, mountains of paper and toxic trash. People were living on manufactured impulses, never allowed to question the quality of life; air pollution was deadly, the sky had turned to different shades of smog, destabilizing any form of relationships to our earth, water or real cosmos. The plan was well designed to subvert human power with the illusion of money by inducing psychosis crossing over the threshold to the living dead.
My mother was a zombie before she married my father, as my father consumed his time studying psychology and reading findings published in numerous science magazines, another kind of brain-porn lavishly edited opinions with low rate plausibility, he emotionally and physically abandons his family for another series of urges; driving a sport car, the glorified life style of academia and another wife were also a byproduct of instant gratification.
Published August, 2021
(story continues in Semanawak Part Five)